Recent news reports of electoral aspirations possibly held by billionaire climate activist Michael Bloomberg prompts CLW to consider the political influence the man already clearly possesses among statewide elected officials, who he will need if the reports of his ambitions are true.
To recap, Mr. Bloomberg easily seduced over a dozen top law enforcement officials to make breathtaking promises of service to his “agenda”, pleading to participate in a scheme of his of obvious legal and ethical questionability. That scheme was to place private attorneys in state AG offices to advance Mr. Bloomberg’s priorities.
The attorneys general even would — by contract — regularly report back to the donor on their work. The donor then, we now know, reported back bi-weekly and in detail to Bloomberg Philanthropies (discussion of this was all done on the lead organizer, Maryland AG Brian Frosh’s GMail account, whatever one chooses to read into that decision).
The later claims that well we didn’t really report back, and the subsequent move to keep these relationships secret after not everyone proved to be as much of a cheerleader of this arrangement as the Washington Post, speak volumes. Further instructive, although Virginia’s Mark Herring and Pennsylvania’s Josh Shapiro both boasted in a press release of their involvement, each later denied they ever joined up, again after open records requests came in, ending the holiday of no media scrutiny of this troubling quid pro quo.
But, what made these otherwise rational individuals take such a risk?
Recall, Mr. Bloomberg’s group described itself when recruiting AGs as “Bloomberg-supported”, and WaPo openly promoted it as “financed by Michael Bloomberg”. That was a selling point to these Aspiring Governors, as AGs are often known. As was the offer of PR staff to promote the AGs (known in the trade as “something of value”, to the politician, not the Office).
As for the official acts in return, Virginia’s OAG cravenly offered to take Bloomberg’s money to use the Office of Attorney General “to advance the agenda represented by” Bloomberg’s group. Oh, dear.
That agenda, back to the politics of this, was to “advanc[e] progressive clean energy, climate change, and environmental legal positions”.
According to VA OAG in open court, that Office made this claim and attested to the legal and ethical propriety of doing this without ever putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to inquire into or assess those remarkable claims — which claims certainly seem to be false but inescapably are at best arguable, and demanded legal assessment, given numerous Virginia statutes and even OAG’s own Special Counsel Policy. Handled by a discussion in the hallway? Really?
What sort of fealty, what sort of desire to please and be embraced by a major donor must an elected official — a law enforcement official — possess to take such risks? For at least 13 AGs to take this risk?
Such eager recklessness makes pretty clear this guy has some high-level political support lined up in the states.
This is the sort of thing that could prove quite important in this possible next venture by Mr. Bloomberg. Possibly, someday, a journalist will deign to look into it.